A population-based examination of maltreatment referrals and substantiation for children with autism spectrum disorder

Marisa H. Fisher*, Richard A. Epstein, Richard C. Urbano, Alison Vehorn, Michael J. Cull, Zachary Warren

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

Children with disabilities experience elevated rates of maltreatment, but little is known about the interaction of children with autism spectrum disorder with child protection systems. A population-based dataset of 24,306 children born in 2008 in Tennessee, which included 387 children with autism spectrum disorder identified through the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring network, was linked with state child protection records. Rates of maltreatment referrals, screening for further action, and substantiated maltreatment were examined for children with versus without autism spectrum disorder. Significantly more children with autism spectrum disorder (17.3%) than without (7.4%) were referred to the Child Abuse Hotline. Children with autism spectrum disorder were less likely than children without autism spectrum disorder to have referrals screened in for further action (62% vs 91.6%, respectively), but substantiated maltreatment rates were similar across groups (3.9% vs 3.4%, respectively). Girls versus boys with autism spectrum disorder were more likely to have substantiated maltreatment (13.6% vs 1.9%, respectively). The high percentage of children with autism spectrum disorder referred for allegations of maltreatment, the differential pattern of screening referrals in for further action, and the high levels of substantiated maltreatment of girls with autism spectrum disorder highlights the need for enhanced training and knowledge of the complex issues faced by children with autism spectrum disorder, their families, and state welfare agencies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1335-1340
Number of pages6
JournalAutism
Volume23
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019

Keywords

  • autism spectrum disorder
  • child abuse
  • child protective services
  • maltreatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'A population-based examination of maltreatment referrals and substantiation for children with autism spectrum disorder'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this